September Highlights

Posted: Wednesday 4 October 2017

Ah yes, September, a month that’s supposed to signal the beginning of autumn but let’s face it, it’s basically just felt like the start of a really long chilly winter. We, however, have managed to keep things HOT! We’ve been packed to the rafters with the finest acts coming through our doors this month, so zip up and read on to find out what went down this September.

Crowded and brimming with anticipation, the first roar of applause at the sold out O2 Academy Brixton came this month when singer-songwriter, JP Cooper stepped into a hazy purple spotlight with an acoustic guitar and smooth vocals in the opening lines of ‘Birthday’. Cooper’s atmospheric set went without a hitch, sufficiently warming the crowd with tracks like ‘September Song’ and his hit, ‘Passport Home’ in preparation for Irish trio, The Script.

For a band used to selling out arenas, five thousand could be considered intimate, and that was reflected in the way that The Script’s stage was set, putting them all within touching distance of each other, but you’d be quickly mistaken to think this show was small in any way. Their 2008 hit, ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved’ provoked an overwhelming response and with a spectrum of kaleidoscopic lights spilling from the stage and washing over the venue throughout, the star moment of the evening arrived when Danny moved through the balcony crowd on ‘Energy Never Dies’ shortly before performing ‘Hall of Fame’ and ‘Rain’ in the encore.

Brandon Flowers. That should really be all the convincing you need as to why The Killers made it into our September Highlights. Like The Script, the Las Vegas quartet crammed all of their arena flair into our 5000 capacity O2 Academy Brixton, and the results were off the scale. With confetti guns, mesmerising lighting and a mixed catalogue of fan-favourites and new material – including hits like ‘Mr Brightside’ and ‘Somebody Told Me’ - the band inspired sing-a-longs throughout from old and new fans alike (some of whom queued from as early as 4am!)

You wouldn’t really expect less than a captivating performance from alt-J, but it was only when the Leeds-based indie rockers took to a sold-out O2 Academy Bournemouth earlier on this month, that we realised just how spectacular they really are live. With the soon-to-be O2 Academy headliners Blaenavon in the opening slot, the stage was set and anticipation high as the Mercury Prize-nominated trio took to performing. Met with rapturous applause to their biggest hits and material from their latest album, RELAXER, the flawless light production made it truly an all-encompassing audio and visual night to remember.

Only American singer-songwriter, Ryan Adams would think to use soft plush tiger toys as part of an elaborate stage design - that also featured an entire wall made up of retro televisions intertwined with lights! Engaging and ambient throughout, Ryan created a mesmeric atmosphere which was only challenged by the lighting accompaniment and the huge disco ball dangling above a set list filled with all the hits from across his entire catalogue. 

Ten years after Mayday Parade dropped their debut album onto the world and they’ve returned to the UK to play it in full. A Lesson In Romantics was an album that defined an entire generation of emo/pop-punk kids, so to be able to relive those songs all over again was an absolute treat. The band flawlessly worked through the album, complete with guitar swings and sing-a-longs, but it was piano-led ballad ‘Miserable At Best’ which hit everyone right in the feels. Not content with just playing the album tracks, the band also treated the crowd to an acoustic rendition of Something Corporate’s anthem ‘Punk Rock Princess’ and other hits from across Mayday Parade’s career, such as ‘Three Cheers For Five Years’ and ‘Kids In Love’.

Spawned from the British post punk scene, The Psychedelic Furs have been around since the late 70s. It was when they recently embarked on a three-date run that they brought something rather special to O2 Academy Bristol, O2 Forum Kentish Town and O2 Academy Oxford. Their ‘Singles Tour’ featured a set list comprised of THE biggest songs from across their shimmering forty-year career, including ‘Love My Way’ and ‘Pretty in Pink’.  The tour may have invoked nostalgia among fans, but The Furs proved they are a band who truly sound as good as they ever had. 

You have to wonder whether Richard Colson Baker had any idea what his future would hold when he released his first mixtape, Stamp of Approval, as a teen in 2006. Better known by his stage name, Machine Gun Kelly, the American rapper - who has featured on tracks by everyone from Sleeping With Sirens to Little Mix – was on tour this past month in support of his new album, Bloom. Known for killer tracks like, ‘Till I Die’ and ‘Let You Go’, he recited his rhymes to excited fans with practiced precision. Creating a buzzing atmosphere, MGK maintained the energy throughout his tour and displayed a “do-not-try-this-at-home” level of climbing skill as he performed from some of the highest points on stage before eventually embracing his inner daredevil at O2 Ritz Manchester and climbed up the framework to the side of the stage! The standard has been set.

If anyone is on top of production, it’s JUSTICE. Seriously. O2 Academy Brixton hosted the electronic, French duo for two nights this past month, in what has gone down as an incredible audio-visual spectacular. Rows of uplighters, lit-up amplifiers, fluorescent tubing and even a moving overhead lighting rig all added to the futuristic lighting design - timed perfectly with JUSTICE’s set list. Hidden amongst the plethora of lights and beset by a wall of Marshall speakers, the show was so enthralling to watch, it was easy to forget this was just two men and a few keyboards on stage. Sometimes words can do a performance justice (sorry), but on this occasion we urge you to see it for yourselves.

After emerging as a front man in 2016, the ‘They Ain’t 100’ rapper has been making waves since with ‘Like That’ and ‘The Avenues’ and his live show was no exception. Bringing an arena atmosphere to an indoor venue is a hard task, but with the large lighting installation, accompanied by a set list full of fan favourites, Fredo proved it’s possible as he took his sold-out show to O2 Academy Islington and showed why he’s a MC on the rise this year. 

Their debut album, Youth Is Only Fun In Retrospect, may be a few months shy from only being a year old, but it feels as if Sundara Karma have been around for a lot longer. Okay, so they basically have, but it’s probably also due to the fact that they’ve been EVERYWHERE lately; smashing it on the festival circuit this past summer, touring internationally and even making an appearance on MTV. So when the indie four-piece came to O2 Academy Bristol to play a stunning show to adoring fans, it was bound to go down as one of our best shows of September. Supported by The Magic Gang on the night, Sundara performed from their feel-good, indie pop catalogue.

This tour is the most special tour we've done. Thanks to evry1 who's come along so far. Still tix left for Brixton!

— sundara karma (@sundarakarma) October 3, 2017

From the strange to the spectacular, we’ve got a bit of everything this month.

If ever you thought you were dedicated, you’ve got nothing on a particular KMFDM fan who HITCHHIKED all the way from Latvia to see the industrial band play live at O2 Academy Islington. Thumbs up!

“Celeb” spotting is common amongst the audience, and some are easier to spot than others, but at The Killers at O2 Academy Brixton this past month whilst Woody Harrelson(!) was on stage bringing in the encore, Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix and Stoke City footballer, Peter Crouch were in the crowd to cheer on.

The annual Hyundai Mercury Prize Awards took place this September, which saw a multitude of talented acts take to the stage to prove why they should take the award home. With the prestigious event taking place mid-month, we had the shortlisted artists on repeat. That’s not to say we didn’t have time for Foo Fighters’ latest release, Concrete and Gold.      

Track Listing: 

1. alt-J - Deadcrush
2. Blossoms - Charlemagne
3. Glass Animals - Life Itself
4. J Hus - Did You See
5. Dinosaur - Living, Breathing
6. Ed Sheeran - Shape of You
7. Kate Tempest - Don't Fall In
8. Loyle Carner - The Isle of Arran
9. Sampha - (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano
10. Stormzy - Big For Your Boots
11. The Big Moon - Cupid
12. The xx - On Hold
13. Foo Fighters - The Sky Is A Neighborhood

With so many huge bands in and out of our doors, it’s easy to forget those bands that are out there, tirelessly working their way up to the top who deserve your attention. This month, we’re putting the spotlight on soul sensation, Tom Grennan.